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Return to Eden

An artist's metaphor for building intimacy in marriage
Return to Eden

Have the colors of intimacy in your marriage faded over time? Has one of you been a source of hurt and fraud in the marital bed, or turned to other avenues of self-gratification? Lovemaking that has turned 50 shades of gray is not even on the same color wheel as the original design of Eden, which promised sexuality that is satisfying and ecstatically vibrant. What if, like the creators of Pleasantville, we could color our own intimate world with hues of delight and satisfaction? What if we controlled the color? What if it could be as easy as picking up the correct brush and adding the right shade?

There is a way to bring back all the colors of Eden into married sexuality, but it requires an artistry of mutual satisfaction, created with the palette of unconditional love available to Christian marriages, sanctified and blessed by God.

Recognize the Forgery

Real husbands and wives are messy canvases. They are fallible. Their attempts at lovemaking might have become like the travesty of a priceless Picasso covered with the forgery of a thick layer of dried paint that must be removed to get down to the masterpiece beneath. Excuses of emotional scarring, baggage from the past, fatigue, headaches, and the busyness of life cause many to hide from true intimacy, leaving instead the bland shades of hope deferred. But every lover longs to return to Eden, to dip their brush into a pool of color and paint satisfaction and ecstasy back into marital intimacy, so here are a few tips and tools to add to your artist's kit.

Remove the Fig Leaves

Be willing to remove the fig leaves of Eden's shame by stripping off the outer coverings of sin, rejection, defrauding, resistance, and layers of hurt to get back to the basics of one man and one woman, naked and unashamed. Address physical issues such as lack of libido, pain, or hormonal imbalances that might interfere with intimacy. Get help from professionals if there is a hindrance to physical pleasure, issues with family planning, or deeper, more painful emotional scarring from the past. Be honest about what feels good and what doesn't. Explore together the paths that lead to pleasure. Perfection is an illusion; normal doesn't exist. The real artistry of sexual intimacy appears in overcoming personal barriers in the pursuit of mutual pleasure—together.

Set up a Secluded Studio

Eliminate distractions and interruptions. Create a schedule that works. Make changes to the children's routines and sleeping arrangements so there are no excuses to avoid intimacy. Clean out the cobwebs, scatter some rose petals, buy some new sheets. Rearrange and redecorate the bedroom if necessary to create a studio of love! The marital bed is meant to be undefiled with the excuses of entanglements, diversions that divide, resentment the reproduces—and the continual presence of kids.

Establish the Mood

Prepare for love by creating an emotional setting free from conflict. Minimize and soothe over pain from the past by creating a safe place of acceptance; add comforting sensations of sights, sounds, fragrances, tastes, and touches of love. Lay aside the hindrances of blame, guilt, and shame, and repent of anything that has introduced separation or dissatisfaction. Intimacy begins with the elimination of barriers that keep you apart. Start with apologies, forgiveness, and restitution. Forgiveness is a powerful aphrodisiac!

Get out the Paint Box

Get ready to color outside the lines! Splash on the paint of love, admiration, devotion, and adoration in abstract and unbridled expression. Or tentatively pick up a brush and dab a bit of acceptance onto the bristles to paint her beautiful. Hesitantly add a smidgen of forgiveness and a glob of unconditional love, and stroke and shade the hues to bring out his true colors.

She can let him paint on her canvas with his vulnerabilities; he can brush over her fears with his colors of acceptance. Love covers a multitude of mistakes! When her frailties combine with his weakness, they produce a colorful hue that's never before been seen, glistening with a vibrancy that is far superior to the tints and sepia of the media this world offers.

Take Some Art Lessons

Invite the Master Creator to teach you the techniques of the artistry of love. God created lovemaking to be satisfying, unifying, restorative, and fun! He is not embarrassed by true love expressing itself in demonstrations of adoration, affection, and mutual pleasure. In fact, the true intimacy of lovemaking—two becoming one—might be the closest we come to understanding true love in this fallen world. It must please him when we figure out how to paint a masterpiece of love! God knows what will bring both of you pleasure, satisfaction, and contentment, and he can teach you how to discover this together in your marriage.

Create a Masterpiece

Rather than thinking she is a piece of work—consider her a piece of artwork! Stop lusting after the talent exhibited on the canvas of the neighboring easel, and take confidence in your own ability to create a unique work of art. You figured it out in the early days, but if it has become all about technique, fairplay, resentment, and reproach instead of the simplicity of expressing the language of love—it's time to stop talking and start painting the colorful, vibrant language that can produce a work of art (and sometimes that language speaks through footrubs and starts with helping with chores).

The Art of Nudity

The true art of nudity is not a piece for a museum exhibit. It is attained in the marital bed, so find a medium that works. It's about creating art for sheer enjoyment. Sculpt each other into pleasing forms. Paint her beautiful. Stroke vibrancy upon his canvas. Finger-paint if necessary! Pose for him. Study her—each curve and groove. Admire his graceful lines. Become a master artist with extensive practice. Then create beautiful artwork together, framed with covenant and commitment, displayed like a masterpiece in an exclusive museum of a marriage that abides and thrives.

Shari Popejoy is a writer who lives with her husband, Marc, and their three children in the quiet country of the Ozarks. She is the author of Won without Words and The Livingstone Library youth adventure series.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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